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political defeat retired from the retired the
Mr. HODGE. 1936 to 1946. He retired the year when I was elected, sir. When he retired from the legislature it was not as a result of political defeat. It was because he found it necessary to devote full time to his business. · We who have lived our lives in the islands know that slums and slum areas exist. We also know that Paiewonsky owns no slums. Nor has he ever owned land on which superficial housing was erected.
We know that on the contrary Mr. Paiewonsky has been in the forefront of the fight to correct these evils.
Again, it is ironic that he should be charged by his enemies for being for the very thing he has fought hardest against.
The people know that during World War II when the Virgin Islands were wallowing in the slough of economic backwash, and with the entire world passing them by that it was the Paiewonskys who bought sailing vessels and operated a supply system into the islands from the mainland and that no charge was made to islanders for the transportation of the necessities they needed to survive... - The Legislature of the Virgin Islands in 1945 or 1946 voted thanks to the Paiewonskys for this action.
Ralph Paiewonsky has worked for the political advancement of our people, and still does. . Gentlemen, the small support this vicious anti-Paiewonsky campaign has received in the islands comes primarily from a group of persons of recent residence who basically do not believe that natives should hold top positions in the government or in private business.
These enemies of the people do not believe in greater self-government. These are the same persons who have sought to defeat me as a native when I ran for the legislature.
These are the reasons why personally I support Ralph Paiewonsky for Governor of the Virgin Islands. It is why, as president of the Virgin Islands Legislature, speaking for the sole elected body in the islands, strongly support Ralph Paiewonsky.
Mr. Chairman, before I go to questions and answers, I would like to request that the chairman insert in the record a letter that, as president of the legislature, I wrote to President Kennedy before he was inaugurated, regarding the nomination of Mr. Paiewonsky and I would like to also ask that while you might have already inserted it, Mr. Chairman, that the letter that Mr. Herman Wouk wrote to you be also made a part of the record.
The CHAIRMAN. Without objection, your letter will be put in the record.
Mr. HODGE. Thank you. "The CHAIRMAN. I believe you put in the letter. Is it the same letter he wrote to me that you want in the record ? Mr. HODGE. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. I have already put it in the record. Mr. Hodge. Thank you. . May we make it a part of my statement, as well as my letter to President Kennedy.
The CHAIRMAN. Without objection, both Mr. Wouk's statement and your letter to the President may be made a part of the printed record.
(The material referred to is as follows:)
DEAR SENATOR: The legislature of the Virgin Islands has instructed me to extend our heartiest congratulations on your election as President of the United States. We are looking forward to the years of your administration, for we are confident the achievements of the next decade will bring peace and dignity to our world.
The imagination of our people in the Virgin Islands has been seized by your moving plea for sacrifice, for dedication, and for progress. This legislature, which includes no Republicans, will support your efforts in every manner open to us.
Cur islands have made progress since their purchase by the United States from Denmark in 1917. We look forward to an acceleration of that progress in the years ahead.
We would like to recommend to your attention the name of Ralph Paiewonsky, as a candidate for Governor of the Virgin Islands.
Under American programs our people have achieved a high degree of literacy more than 98 percent of our population read and write. This is the more remarkable when it is understood that we still lag in the economic field and many of our citizens see but a few dollars annually in cash.
But our people have achieved a high degree of literacy and, with it, political maturity. We hope and pray that in the near future we may, as citizens of the United States, participate more fully in the government of our country that we may elect our own Governor and vote for President and Vice President of the United States.
There is still a period of waiting before us before this is achieved. It is necessary, we believe, that a man of probity and proved administrative ability guide our islands destiny toward this goal. It is necessary, we believe, that the man appointed Governor be a native islander familiar with the ramifications of our life in this the easternmost frontier of the United States.
Mr. Paiewonsky fulfills these conditions. He has been national committeeman for the Democratic Party in the Virgin Islands. He has served in distinguished fashion in the legislature of these islands. He has made a success in the business world and he is known as a man of faith. Born in the Virgin Islands, and a lifelong resident here, he knows probably every one living in our islands.
We hope and pray that you will see fit to appoint Mr. Paiewonsky as Governor. He will be a credit to the islands and to your administration.
If there is any manner in which either I or the legislature may be of service please let us know and we will comply. And please, won't you, like President Truman before you, visit us here in the "Islands of the Sun”? Respectfully yours,
WALTER I. M. HODGE, President, Virgin Islands Legislature.
A STATEMENT ON THE GOVERNORSHIP OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS, BY HERMAN WOUK
It seems to me that the modern history of the Virgin Islands is going to begin with the governorship of Ralph Paiewonsky.
The islands have strategic importance in the Caribbean Sea as a happy and completely loyal English-speaking territory under the American flag, with excellent harbors and good airfields. They have international political importance as an American community where the races live in total harmony. Here the word "integration" is without significance. Any United Nations delegate who visits the Virgin Islands can never believe again the Soviet canard that Americanism means discrimination.
At present the islands are emerging from long economic doldrums, thanks to the tourist discovery of their enchanting beauty and perfect climate. They can, properly administered, become self-supporting and even contribute to the Treasury instead of being a charge on it.
But the islands now need nearly all essential services improved up to the mark of American community: roads, water, power, sewage disposal, harbor dredging, airfield development, and so forth. The native population badly needs proper housing.
Obviously the situation calls for a man who can get things done, and who knows the islands.
Ralph Paiewonsky is a native Virgin Islander who has spent his life here. He has built up his fortunes through invention, perservence, thrift, and very hard work. He is a living answer to the contention that the tropics rob men of energy. Ralph Paiewonsky has the energy of a mainlander, and then some.
He has been active in politics as a Democratic leader for years. Where he has seen a need, he has always tried to do something about it. With his brother Isidor he has been in the forefront of all efforts at community planning. The Paiewonsky family, one of the most distinguished in the territory, is honored by white and black equally as people of charity, enterprise, and culture. Ralph's brother, in particular, has published monographs on the antiquities of the islands and works tirelessly to preserve its historic monuments and its traditional architecture.
Ralph Paiewonsky's humility is extraordinary. It took me, as a newcomer several years ago, a long time to realize that he was a political leader and a wealthy man. I first knew him as a good-humored person whom you could find at the Riise Shop or at the West Indies Bank, or on Main Street, almost any time of the day, in his shirt sleeves, talking quietly with one friend or another, and ready to drop his business to do a newcomer a service. This unassuming, accessible manner is not a pose, I learned, but his essential nature. I've never known a man in a similar position less given to self-importance.
Various charges have, I understand, been leveled against Mr. Paiewonsky. They are not worth discussing. Mr. Paiewonsky is supported for the governorship by both local newspapers, owned and edited by Negro natives and insistently independent in their views. The great majority of the legislature of both parties supports him. There is no visible opposition of any consequence on the islands. This appointment has been hailed all through the territory as a bright promise that at last the necessary things are going to get done. The opposition has been reduced to surreptitious whispering and letterwriting. Its nature is its own strongest refutation.
In short, President Kennedy has clearly drawn on his firsthand knowledge of the islands in appointing the one man most qualified in temper, experience, and proved ability to raise the territory to the general level of American living, while preserving its natural beauty and unique charm. Every responsible person down here is happy over the appointment, and counts on Senate confirmation to start a new era in the life of these beautiful islands, where so much needs to be done.
HERMAN WOUK. Senator ALLOTT. Mr. Chairman. The CHAIRMAN. Senator Allott. Senator ALLOTT. Mr. Hodge, on page 1 of your statement you say:
As president of the third legislature, I must tell you that a very large majority of the members of that legislature are committed to support of Ralph Paiewonsky on a program of development of the Virgin Islands in all phases, political, social, and economic.
On the last page you say:
It is why, I, as president of the Virgin Islands Legislature, speaking for the sole elected body in the islands, strongly support Mr. Paiewonsky.
Now, did the legislature pass a resolution ?
Senator ALLOTT. Then if in the first place you do not speak for the whole legislature, but only for the majority even though it be a large majority, then you do not speak for the whole legislature, do you?
Mr. HODGE. I know of no member of the legislature who objects to Mr. Paiewonsky as Governor of the islands.
Senator ALLOTT. Do you have letters from them to that effect?
Mr. HODGE. Not with me, but I have a signed statement by six members and I have the commitment of three other members.
Senator ALLOTT. Sir?
Mr. HODGE. I have a signed statement by six members and I have the commitment of three other members.
Senator ALLOTT. You say here a very large majority and then you say that you speak for the sole elected body.
Now, if you had a unanimous situation, then you could say you spoke for the legislature.
Mr. HODGE. I would say that I am speaking for the legislature, sir, because I know of no member who has objected to Mr. Paiewonský being Governor of the islands.
Senator ALLOTT. Then your statement on the first page should be changed. You should say that the legislature unanimously supports Mr. Paiewonsky. Do they?
Mr. HODGE. If you wish me to make that change, it is all right with me.
Senator ALLOTT. I do not want to make the change. I just want to know what the facts are.
Mr. HODGE. I do know that the majority of the members speak and it seems to me, Senator Allott, that if 8 members of an 11-man legislature pass a resolution or pass a bill that certainly it is an act of the legislature.
Senator ALLOTT. Did they pass a bill?
Senator MILLER. In your statement you stated that the nominee had been a leader in trying to take care of some of these problems?
Mr. HODGE. Yes.
Senator MILLER. Will you give us any specific items in which he has taken the leadership?
Mr. HODGE. I guess I can talk about that all day.
Senator MILLER. For example, I asked the nominee yesterday what the major problem was. He stated there were many major problems connected with water, housing, sanitation, sewage. What, specifically, has the nominee done in the way of leadership with respect to improving the leadership with respect to water, sanitation, sewage, housing?
Mr. HODGE. I do know on the question of housing the nominee has been before the legislature time and time again asking us to approve low-cost housing sites, asking us to work out our problems on sewers and problems on roads out at various times.
Senator MILLER. Has the legislature taken any action?
Senator MILLER. I regret to say that I never had the opportunity to visit the islands, but I must say that the reports that I have received indicate there are very severe problems in those areas and I have not received any tangible evidence of how they have been improved in the last few years.
Mr. HODGE. Well, sir, those members of the committee I am sure that Senator Burdick would substantiato my statement—who have been to the island 5 or 6 years ago, and if they had come back this year, or last year, they would agree with me that we have made substantial improvement, especially public improvement, in our roads and water systems.
Even though we are still behind, we have made some progress.
Senator MILLER. Do you feel that because Mr. Rosenblatt did not point that out in his report that his report was slanted ?
Mr. HODGE. I know so, Senator, from the question he asked me, and the other members of the legislature.
Senator MILLER. Did you point out to Mr. Rosenblatt some of the improvements that had been made? in
Mr. HODGE. I did not have a chance to. He was looking for one particular thing. I had breakfast with him and a man by the name of Mr. Revy. - He asked me concerning the governorship and why must we have a native. I knew then that the next man he was soliciting support for in the islands was a man from here and from the questions he directed to me he certainly favored, he did not favor a native being a Governor of the islands.
Senator MILLER. Thank you.
The CHAIRMAN. I have been worried a little bit about the fact that the powerplant loses $108,000 a year, the Virgin Island Corporation $500,000 or $600,000 a year.
How does this happen? Does not the legislature pay any attention to what goes on in the islands?
Mr. HODGE. We do pay attention. We certainly would like to have something to say about the Virgin Islands Corporation, but that is a Federal corporation.
The CHAIRMAN. Would you like to see that abolished? You might find an ally.
Mr. HODGE. No, sir; I would not agree that the Corporation be abolished.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Paiewonsky and I were on opposite sides of the argument in the Democratic platform committee about people down there electing their own Governor, the people down there taking full charge of their own government.
Nobody seems to worry about the fact that they dip into the Federal treasury for many hundreds of thousands of dollars or so a year and spread it out.
Doesn't it disturb the legislature at all?
Mr. HODGE. Certainly. Since 1954 we have been trying to carry our own burdens.
The CHAIRMAN. You may try, but you do not succeed by several hundred thousand dollars a year.
Mr. HODGE. You know this, that the people in the Virgin Islands have nothing to do with the running of the Virgin Islands Corporation. We have one single native on the board of directors. It is controlled entirely by the top people in Washington, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Have you ever seen the Virgin Island Corporation meeting in the Virgin Islands?
Mr. HODGE. I saw a board of directors meeting at cocktails once.